Northern Ireland

Irish FM Coveney hopeful for Stormont talks success

Simon Coveney Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Coveney said the DUP and Sinn Féin "want to make the process work" but that they still face "real challenges"

The Republic of Ireland's foreign minister has said he hopes there will be a successful outcome to talks to restore NI devolution by the end of the week.

Simon Coveney told the Seanad (Irish senate) the Stormont talks had reached a "sensitive" point.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning executive since January.

Mr Coveney said the DUP and Sinn Féin "want to make the process work" but that they still face "real challenges".

"This week is an important week in the context of Northern Ireland and I hope we will have a successful outcome by the end of the week," he said.

"There are sensitive discussions happening today. I am somewhat cautious in what I am saying. I don't think it would be helpful to make a running commentary today.

'Critical point'

"Ten months have now passed. It means the people of Northern Ireland are not being served by an elected and accountable devolved government.

"This is not a sustainable position for much longer. This is a most critical point for the devolved institutions and peace process as a whole."

The institutions collapsed following a row between the DUP and Sinn Féin over a botched green energy scheme.

Several rounds of talks involving the British and Irish governments and the local parties have, so far, failed to reach an agreement.

On Monday, Secretary of State James Brokenshire said the DUP and Sinn Féin have reduced the number of sticking points between them, but that "clear differences remain".

He said he stands ready to bring forward legislation to enable an executive to be formed.

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